Farmar is not lacking for effort

Times Staff Writer

SALT LAKE CITY -- Many of the Lakers were down and out, really in no mood for exit meetings with Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak after another early playoff elimination last May.

But Jordan Farmar listened, intently, to what they said to him.

He then became a denizen of the team training facility, working on his shot as June slipped into July, and then into August and September.

"Every day, a couple times a day," Farmar said. "I took a lot of shots."

Apparently.

Farmar, who turned 21 on Friday, is averaging 10.1 points after scoring 21 against the Jazz and shooting 50.8%, a solid percentage for a guard. He was also well above average with his 40.7% accuracy from three-point range.

"I'm just trying to shorten [my shot], square my shoulders up and just knock it down," Farmar said. "It's all hand-eye coordination, and I believe in my ability."

He wasn't entirely confident on his drives to the hoop last season. Jackson said Farmar "started worrying about it a little bit."

"Things weren't going well for him on the way to the basket. He wasn't getting calls. He was getting knocked down, and then you've got 5-on-4 coming back at the other end of the floor. I had to tell him, 'You've got to make those shots or else suffer the consequences for it.' "

Things have changed. Consequences have lessened.

"Hard work," Farmar said. "And confidence."

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Come again?

A day after agreeing to a two-year contract extension, Jackson wondered aloud if he would be able to finish it.

"Can I do this again for another year? Yeah, I think so," he said. "Can I do it for two? Who knows? That's not important. Just take it a day at a time. Things go by really quickly, you know?"

It appeared Jackson was having fun with the concept . . . perhaps.

When asked if he felt relief, he smiled.

"No, not at all," he said wryly. "A lot more pressure."

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Sasha Vujacic had a career-high 22 points Thursday against Denver, 19 in the fourth quarter, an outburst obviously welcomed by Jackson.

"Sasha's the leading scorer at practice often. We kind of kid him about being an 11 o'clock [a.m.] player, not an eight o'clock [p.m.] player," Jackson said. "But we're happy for him. He loves to score, probably a little too much. He's going to shoot and ask questions later. It's good to see him get confidence."

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Jackson was blunt when talking about Lamar Odom's defense Thursday against Denver forward Carmelo Anthony. "Lamar was a punk against him, actually," Jackson said. "No, don't say that -- he was getting toasted." . . . Derek Fisher is a finalist for Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year award. The winner will be announced next week.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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